• Season:

Ep. 5, Featuring Chris Dicker from Trusted Reviews

The XWP Tonight Show — Season 1, Ep. 5, Featuring Chris Dicker

In this episode of the XWP Tonight Show, Amit Sion sits down with Chris Dicker of legendary British technology review site Trusted Reviews to speak about the importance of trust and integrity with your customers and the importance of site performance to your business.

Transcript:

Amit

Trusted reviews. What do they do? The name says it all. They provide tech news and reviews that you can trust. Tonight I have the pleasure of speaking with the managing director of Trusted Reviews, Chris Dicker. 

Welcome to the show. It’s a pleasure to have you here. What time is it over there in London?

Chris

Currently, it is 8:39 in the morning. So I’ve literally just done breakfast for my 18 month old son, and thankfully, I don’t think I’ve got any of it on my shirt.

Amit

And that is why on the XWP Tonight Show, we are all sitting together at the virtual WordPress theater. Chris, to begin, you’re the managing director and an executive board member, but prior to Trusted Reviews, you spent a long time at another well known publisher, can you please tell us a bit about your journey?

Chris

Previous to my role now, I spent 16 years at a company called TI Media. However, people probably know it a bit better for either being known as IPC media, or Time Inc UK. So they are the UK arm of Time Inc. I then kind of moved across to become MD of Trusted Reviews at a very interesting time, as that was about six months before Future Publishing approached to buy TI Media. And then as part of that deal and the CMA ruled obviously Trusted Reviews wouldn’t be allowed to go off as part of that sale. So that’s kind of left us to where we are now really, and being interviewed on The Tonight Show of all places. So that’s kind of where we are.

Amit

Yeah, that’s quite a journey. And I gotta say, for Trusted Reviews, trust is in your company’s name. It’s a big part of your business. How have you gained your users’ trust over the last two decades?

Chris

I think trust is a very hard thing, especially in the reviews side of things, because there’s been a whole lot of negative press around fake reviews and things like that, where people can go online and buy reviews of numerous platforms. However, what kind of sets us apart is that we thoroughly test every single product that we review. So our reviews are kind of all product led. So we get the product in and we put it through a very strict testing process. Whether that’s a mobile phone or a vacuum cleaner, there’s test data that we kind of compile on each and every one of those products. So ultimately, we kind of put them to the test to decide if it’s any good or not, and that way kind of saves people ultimately, the hassle of potentially buying a dud product. That’s kind of what we do.

Amit

That’s really interesting, because when you’re trying to decide between one phone or another, or different laptop brands, you generally just want to ask someone you can trust, like a friend, someone who’s tested it out, and that’s really what Trusted Reviews is. With regards to your website, when we first engaged the Trusted Reviews website, it wasn’t scoring too well with Google core web vitals. Did you notice any negative effects to the business due to that performance dip?

Chris

Absolutely, yeah. So we’ve previously been hit by numerous core Google updates, which, for everyone working in digital publishing can be completely detrimental, and it’s one of those days when it kind of ripples through that there’s an update being rolled out that gets everyone kind of all tense, wondering what’s going to happen. But yeah, we have been hit a couple of times from a Google updates perspective, which wasn’t great. And I think we were in quite a tough place previously. We’re a big part of a large organization. And there’s a lot of red tape as such, and to move takes a lot longer than normal. So I think that the positive side of things from now and not being part of a massive organization is that we can ultimately move like a startup. So we’re a well established brand, but being able to move like a startup, so it makes things moving forward a lot lot easier.

Amit

When I spoke with the XWP engineers, we were able to improve the performance on Google page speed index from 28 to a 98. That’s a massive improvement, and we’re really proud of that. What do you expect will be some of the benefits of this to the Trusted Reviews website?

Chris

It’s been an absolutely fantastic result and real credit to the team. I think 28 was actually a little bit generous for us to begin with. It’s been a great result, we’d obviously like to see an increase in traffic off the back of that, and in turn, revenue. However, we understand that it takes time for Google to recognize the big changes that sites make. So that’s one to look forward to this year. 

The other interesting thing is that we’re actually already starting to see some positive feedback from our users saying they’re actually recognizing an update, or some sort of update to the sites and are experiencing a faster experience. It was only the other night as we conducted a focus group session, and some of the people on there said, “Yeah, have you done something to the site? Because it seems a lot quicker on my mobile and stuff now.” And I was like, “I believe, yes, yes we have.” We have been doing some stuff behind the scenes. So yeah, it’s nice when that gets noticed, because obviously, you realize that you’re on the right path. And ultimately, better user experiences is always a good thing.

Amit

And now that your site is lightning fast, how do you plan to keep it that way?

Chris

I think that’s one of the hardest things. So one of the things that we’ve looked to do is to incorporate a performance budget, and a process to look at that. So whenever there’s a new piece of code that potentially needs to be deployed onto the site, we run it through checks now to kind of see what impact that will have on the site, and then we can decide actually, whether that’s worth the performance hit. You have people approach you saying, “Oh, there’s no performance impact on our code at all, it’s absolutely fine.”

But ultimately, there’s always, no matter how small, there’s always some sort of impact. So I think the key thing is, you just gotta be really careful that you don’t get into a trap of going, “Yep, that’s great. Oh, there’s only a tiny increase there, oh, there’s only a tiny increase there.” And before you know it, all those tiny increases, kind of add up to the point where you will then start seeing your performance, your overall performance dropped down. So that’s something that we’re going to be very careful of going forward.

Amit

That’s great, and- oh, what’s that sound? Let’s put these questions away. It’s time for our lightning round. So for that, Chris, I’m gonna ask you a series of questions. I need you to answer as fast as you can. And I’m gonna seek your Trusted Review. You ready to go?

Chris

I’m ready.

Amit

Let’s do it. Search engine- Bing or Google?

Chris

I’m gonna say Bing.

Amit

All right. Speakers- JBL or Beats?

Chris

JBL.

Amit

Browser- Chrome or Safari?

Chris

This is a tough one because it’s whether or not I want to say my personal preference or ones that I’d like other people to use. So I would say, I’m gonna go for the Amazon, I’m gonna go Firefox.

Amit

All right. This Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, or Die Hard?

Chris

Die Hard, definitely.

Amit

Good. Soft drink- Coke or Pepsi?

Chris

Coke. 

Amit

iPhone or crappy Samsung? No bias here, no bias.

Chris

Personally, I’m an iPhone user.

Amit

CD or vinyl?

Chris

CD.

Amit

Batman or Superman?

Chris

I’m gonna go Batman.

Amit

Correct, yes. And finally XWP or other WordPress agencies?

Chris

XWP.

Amit

Correct answer, that was all correct. Well done, Chris. Chris, thank you so much for joining us on The XWP Tonight Show. Thank you for being an awesome customer, we greatly appreciate our engagement and our long term partnership together.

Chris

No problem at all. Thanks for having us, and thanks for all your hard work.

Amit

Thanks everyone for joining us and watching the show. We’ll see you next time.